At the outbreak of war, five friends promise each other they’ll meet back up and it’ll all be over by Christmas. Unfortunately, that war was WWII and they were tragically mistaken as their lives and the bonds of their friendship were changed forever.
This German mini-series (not without its controversy) about 5 friend’s respective journeys through WWII was exceptionally well done! Revolving around and testing the bonds of the group of friends that included “The Prodigal Son” Wilhelm (Volker Bruch…who I love!), his pacifist-dreamer younger brother Friedhelm (Tom Schilling…may absolute fave), the rising star-ingenue Greta (Katharina Schuttler), her Jewish boyfriend Viktor (Ludwig Trepte) and the nurse down for the cause, Charlotte (Miriam Stein).
Everyone journeyed into the war thinking it’ll be over rather soon. I loved the set up of the storyline and how it began and end in the same physical place but everyone had been transformed personally…nothing was the same the photo was the thing that held them together through their life-altering journey.
This series did a wonderful job delving into the family dynamics, friendships/relationships, Jewish/non-Jewish experience. Each friend had their own path to take but they all intertwined and intersected. I feel like they did a pretty accurate job of portraying the different subjects of experiences for young Germans during that time period. The performances were grounded in realism and the vast scale of the production, in terms of locations, sets, extras, etc., made this this even more of an admirable feat. The costuming and cinematography were great.
The cast did a wonderful job (and the writers). The acting was exceptional. I loved Friedhelm’s transformation and he had a line about war changing you really stuck out. I also really enjoyed Greta’s story arc with everything she did for love, Viktor and her career.
WWII, its beginning, middle, end and aftermath has been a wellspring of good material for German cinema and it often reflects a people still coming to grips with that legacy and reconciling “the sins of the father(land)”…and it has proven once again that the formula works. An emotional rollercoaster of a series that will give you all the feels. I absolutely devoured this mini-series. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.